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What Really Happened? A Validation Study of Rape Survivors' Help-Seeking Experiences With the Legal and Medical Systems

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Much of what is known about rape survivors' experiences with the legal and medical systems has come from victims' accounts; rarely have researchers collected "the other side of the story" to find out what system personnel say did or did not happen in these interactions. In the current study, rape survivors who sought emergency medical care were interviewed before their hospital discharge about what services they received and how they were treated by social system personnel. Corresponding accounts were then collected from doctors, nurses, and police officers. There was significant interrater reliability between the survivors and legal and medical system personnel regarding what services were or were not provided ("service delivery") and if system personnel engaged in "secondary victimization" behaviors (i.e., statements/actions that could be distressing to victims). However, police officers and doctors significantly underestimated the impact they were having on survivors. Victims reported significantly more post-system-contact distress than service providers thought they were experiencing.
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Keywords: HELP-SEEKING; LEGAL; MEDICAL; RAPE; SEXUAL ASSAULT; VALIDITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2005

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